University System of Georgia Board of Regents Chancellor Hank Huckaby’s recent comments on change in the universities (“Chancellor touts need for change,” May 16) bring instantly to mind that old French quip: plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose – the more it changes, the more it’s the same thing.
Our Georgia university system has always been administration-driven, from the top down, and it will remain so. That’s what the name Georgia Regents University so clearly expresses. The research agenda set by Huckaby and his colleagues will continue to favor big medicine and business interests; the shabby treatment of humanities departments, chronically underfunded, will continue as it always has.
Occasional protest movements will provide good opportunity for the deans and vice presidents to demonstrate that they can and will do exactly as they please, regardless. Humanities faculty quickly realize how little value is awarded to the teaching, research and creative activity for which they trained.
They turn then to committee service work, as an open avenue leading to campus recognition and eventually, so they hope, into administration. The hidden cost of this co-optation is an incalculable waste of time and effort distracted from academic pursuits.
Real change might come, if ever, when and if humanities faculty retake the leadership role that is rightfully theirs, as representatives of the university mission and its core values. I do not see that movement coming any time soon.